I got a call from a manager that I know on messenger. We usually talk once a week and especially now in the Corona lockdown.
“He dumped me,” was the first thing she said. “After five years he just dumped me!”
I knew exactly who it was, it was her favorite artist that she had been working with for five years. She had told me that the artist had been a bit "off" lately not answering on things and didn't want to take meetings. Still, she thought it was the Corona lockdown that was making the artists depressed.
Now she told me that suddenly she was disconnected as manager from the artist Spotify account, she thought it was odd, but since they weren't releasing anything right now she didn't think much about it. Then she was thrown out as admin on the Facebook page then she knew something was up.
Then she got a short email from the artist saying that he was thinking of releasing in another way now and taking care of his own business.
“He just dumped me! Artists are the scumbags of the music industry!,” She kept going. “Not even my worst boyfriends have dumped me in this way, with just a short note in an email. Like five years I have put in my heart and soul into his project and his music. And suddenly it's not worth a shit! Not a call. Just a damn e-mail like "it’s not you, it's you".
I knew exactly what she was talking about. You put in so much energy, work for free while you build the opportunity for a person and their art. In the end, it becomes like a relationship so when it ends in this way, yes, it feels like a breakup from a normal relationship. And I have been talking to a lot of managers that felt exactly this, but it's never really discussed openly in the industry. Instead, the artist just moves along and the manger is just left there. I guess that is why usually parents manage, it’s harder to just cut them off, oh wait no Beyonce even sued her own Dad!
Two weeks later I got a message from the artist. He had been working on a new release and now wonder if I could help him with things to spread the word around his music. Before I have done that to help my manager friend. She would do the same work for my artist in her part of the world it's like you exchange favors. Here was more can you work for free since you have done it before. Clearly, the artists never understood that the contact is through the manger and swapping services. I had no desire at all to do free work for an artist that just dumped probably the only good person that they had in theri team with just a crappy email. In the end, what was in it for me? The shady part was also that the artist was not mentioning that they had left the manger. He just continued on like nothing had happened. So if I didn't know the situation I might have just done him a favor thinking that I was helping my manger college. I wrote back to him to take the quest through his manger and I could see what could be done. What I got back was just a - Ok thank you!
Nothing that he didn't work with the manager any longer, nothing. More it looked like he was still working with the manager.
Of course in the network, we all let know to each other that this artist was going around trying to get free services. He approached several people. Just that they should do him a favor, several of these are working also as PR people he had could be smart enough to try to hire them, since that was what the manager had sometimes invested in, with her own cash. I guess the artist never understood that. Then the release happened, of course, the release was a disaster. Even if the manager only managed to get some small stuff (mainly because the artists wasn't good enough, and also didn't fulfill all assets), you could easily see that with the small things gone it was really down to nothing.
Then in one of the digital showcases that were ongoing this spring, I got the artist in a private chat. He was still asking if I could do some favors to get future gigs and PR and Spotify. I asked if the new release went well (of course I had seen it didn't). He complained that the new person that he got was not good enough and with that, he revealed that he didn't work with my manager friend any longer. I asked why just to be curious. He felt that it didn't go as fast as he wanted and that he needed new blood.
He was acting like a person that just bought a new house and want to make a new style. Throw everything old away and just buy new stuff. It's nice but after a month even the new becomes old. And that good sofa you throw away, you just miss it.
This is the reason why the more you work in the industry the more you lean not working with artists. I just got a tipoff from a very experienced and successful person in the industry. She just said, Peter tell your friend to work with companies instead, artists just come and goes and you put into much time and to gets payout is so uncertain if not impossible. 99 % is just waste of time.
I guess it's true. The problem we have is that the gap between these successful companies and the artists needs to be bridged otherwise the companies don't have anything. At the same coin, artists need to understand that it's not just switching outfit switching managers. And not act like scumbags in certain cases.
It takes two to tango! The scumbags are everywhere. But when people talk about the evil music industry, this side never almost never discussed.
Discover Sensation https://musichelp.se/discover-sensation/
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham.